Summer here in the SF Bay Area has finally kicked in full time, meaning we have days that start out foggy and 50 degrees and end up 90 degrees … mercurial, you might say, just like Jim. It’s got us here at Jim Marshall Photography LLC thinking about road trips, cold ones, food trucks and, primarily, kickass music festivals.
Searching Jim’s archives using “music festivals” as the filter is at once exhilarating and overwhelming. From 1960 to the early ’70s Jim seemed to never stop shooting.
He must have been a blur of non-flashing Leicas, using 35mm film and a handful of fixed lenses (more often than not for the off-stage stuff a 50mm lens) to seemingly be everywhere, perfectly positioned, all the time, snapping one great moment after another.
And music festivals across all genres — onstage and off — were the source of some of his best, most-exhilarating moments and discoveries … and some of his greatest work.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it remains the one defining truth of Jim’s career: this body of work exists because of the trust and relationships that Jim built with these artists, and, it needs to be mentioned, their managers, agents, roadies, spouses, families, groupies, record labels … really the whole swirling maelstrom of money and magic that accompanied these artists and underpinned the making of these moments.
If you ever hung out with Jim for more than 10 minutes in a club, bar or restaurant when he was “on” you saw his networking and connecting ability in action. Because he was such a weird combo of renaissance man and street kid, he seemed to be able to connect with just about anybody, nearly instantly.
And once that connection was made, trust was right around the corner. If I saw him do it once, I saw him do it a hundred times and yet it never ceased to amaze me. And, though I wasn’t old enough or lucky enough to see him pull it off during his prime, there is always the work itself with which to console myself.
Throughout the next few months while we are all under summer’s sway, we will delve deeper into the archive to share some of Jim’s most iconic images as well as great, lesser-known moments, all of them captured at festivals during the height of Jim’s powers as a photographer, when live music history met its most discerning documentarian.
Festivals great and small
Here’s a quick overview of just some of the now-historic festivals Jim documented over those years accompanied by a handful of Jim’s hero shots, just to give you a taste of what’s to come:
Monterey Pop Festival 1967
Monterey Jazz Festival 1960, 1961, 1963, 1964, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967
Newport Pop Festival 1968
Newport Folk Festival 1963,1964, 1969
Newport Jazz Festival 1963, 1964
Northern California Folk/Rock Festival 1968, 1969
Northern Carolina Blue Grass Festival 1969
Big Sur Folk Festival 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969
Dripping Springs 1972, 1973